You probably know from previous blogs, I’ve been taking a screenplay class. My instructor has what I call the perfect combination of teacher requirements. He’s very knowledgeable about his craft, and he’s entertaining. Funny as heck actually. I’ve learned a lot from him over the past few months. He always throws out one-line bits of information, hoping something will stick. For me, some things stuck and some slid down the wall of too much to remember.
However, one thing he taught us, I’ll hold on to forever. This is what he said:
“You are God.”
He spent weeks trying to get us to understand this one simple concept—when you are the writer, the creator, you are God. You decide everything in your story. You decide who lives, who dies. Who has children? Who has affairs? Who falls in love, and who doesn’t?
He was right. You create the people. You create their universe. You are God!
As Bruce Nolan learned in Bruce Almighty, with great power comes great responsibility. So my advice to writers is to use this power wisely.
Here are a few things to remember as you start from nothing and create EVERYTHING.
Let’s call it Writer-God 101.
You must fill your world with interesting people.
We’ll start with Heroines. You can’t make them too weak, or they come across as whiny. If you make them too strong, they come across as hard. If you make them too perfect—well then, what do they have to learn in the story?
Heroes. The men of our dreams. Again, too weak equals yuck. Too strong—hmmm. On second thought, big, strong, bulging muscles. Is there such a thing as too strong for our alpha males? 🙂 But even the strongest hunk needs a softer side, right?
As you create the outer shell of your characters by supplying traits like blue eyes and blonde hair, don’t forget about the inside. You can’t start your story with a contented heroine dancing around in a field of daisies, with nothing to get in her way of ultimate happiness, but a few annoying blue birds singing in the trees around her. Nope. Your characters must grow and the way they do is by drizzling enough pain and suffering into their lives to make their journey realistic. They need to fight some sort of battle. The character could be dealing with trust issues, addiction, insecurities, maybe the loss of a loved one, or a broken heart. But they must overcome something. Who creates these painful circumstances for your beloved characters?
You. Writer-God. You.
You need to invent appealing secondary characters as well. Your heroine needs friends and family members, who are helpful, fun and aid with keeping the story moving.
By the way, Writer-Divinity, while you’re creating your kingdom, you will need to produce cars, animals, malls, tornadoes, food, night, day, etc., etc. You get my point. You must create EVERYTHING!
By now, I’m sure you’re feeling the weight of your characters’ world on your shoulders. And that’s where it should be. Like my teacher said repeatedly, “You are GOD.”
How about it, my writer friends?
Let’s create beautiful worlds together.
Always remember to dream big!